Loving mother Kimberly Shappley has been in the news for quite some time now because of the way she supports her transgender kid Kai. But long before she became an inspiration to parents who are in the same situation, accepting that her son’s gender identity was never an easy thing–especially when you are a devout, conservative Christian.
“I remember one night when Kai was very young, and I was tucking her into bed. Her legs were cold and, concerned, I lifted the sheets, discovering she had taken a pair of panties off a baby doll and put them on herself. It was constricting her blood circulation and if she’d slept that way overnight, it could have become very dangerous. After that experience, I realized I could no longer ignore something very real about my child: my son, born Joseph Paul Shappley, is a girl,” she shared in a previous interview with Good Housekeeping‘s Breanne Randall.
Born in December 2010, the child preferred playing dolls and dressing up with costumes than enjoying toys that are mainly for boys. At a young age, he is already fond of making dresses out of T-shirts. Soon enough, he begged his parents to let him have long hair.
And Kimberly found it hard to accept all these thing.
“I was raised as a devout, conservative Christian with strong Republican values in the South. It’s a place where being different can not only be unforgiving, but unsafe. I was, and am, an active member of our local church. I used to lead a small ministry teaching Bible study, and I didn’t support or condone those living the LGBTQ lifestyle,” she said.
“I’d get down on her level and say, ‘No, you’re a boy,'” she continued. “As a Christian mother raising a Christian family, it was a very difficult time for me. I wasn’t ready to give in and allow Kai to transition socially — especially at such a young age. My internal struggle beat me up daily. I felt like I couldn’t go against everything I’d been taught to believe, and yet I also couldn’t let Kai live in such obvious agony. I wasn’t ready to face the fact that my one-and-a-half-year-old child was a girl. That battle lasted for a couple years.”
Kimberly Shappley: My Son is Now My Daughter
Until she finally reached out to professionals, including a child psychiatrist who asked her, “If you and Kai were on a deserted island, would you let her wear girls’ clothes?'” To which she replied, “Probably.”
“The psychiatrist told me it wasn’t God I had a problem with, but what other people would think of my child and me. That really got my gears spinning. I thought, ‘Okay, I could start with girls’ panties.’ It’s something no one else will see. It took me three or four trips to Walmart until I could finally bring myself to do it. I’d go pick them up and then leave them in the store, crying as I walked out of the automatic doors. I would be so upset, and then I’d feel bad about not getting them. It was something so seemingly small, but it was a huge hurdle to overcome,” she shared.
But then, she realized that she never want her child to face the battle alone.
“Yes, the emotional challenge has been great, but I’d rather face that challenge myself than have my child face it alone like so many transgender children have to because their parents won’t let them transition. There’s never been a moment of doubt or regret after making the choice to let Kai transition,” she expressed.